Category Archives: Cheese

Fromage Friday: Brillat Savarin

It’s BACK! Sure, there is a lot of good cheese to be eaten in the United States, but on that side of the Atlantic “fancy” cheese is more expensive and seems frivolous. In France, I feel like a criminal every time I walk past a fromagerie without buying something. That means I feel like a criminal every 15 minutes, but so be it.

The return to glory involved the 17ème arrondissement’s Alléosse fromagerie and about five kinds of cheese, but the only one I’d never had before was Brillat Savarin. The cheese comes in a square about the size of your fist, but a quarter of it is more than enough to last a few days because it’s a   “triple crème” cheese. This means that cream is added to the usual milk mixture when this cheese is being created. It also means the cheese is about 75 percent fat. One sliver of this bad boy meant I had to put some of my other cheese slices back on the plate at lunch (l’horreur!!!); I was just WAY too full. Yes, I said it. I found a cheese I can’t really eat.

According to my reader-friendly cheese book, this cheese was created by Pierre Androuët, FATHER of the master of all things French cheese, in 1930. He’s also the author of my less-than-reader-friendly “Dictionary of World Cheeses.” Good work, Team Androuët.

Brillat Savarin

Made by: Fromager/Affineur (meaning they actually mature the cheese) Alléosse, rue Poncelet. The line was 10 people long. I take the advice of travel writers and get in lines whenever I see that many people waiting.
Hails from: The northwest of France. Mostly Normandy.
Background: Not a handmade cheese, and so creamy that my aunt squeezed a piece and said it actually felt like butter. It’s a fresh cheese in that it only needs to age a few weeks, but it’s by no means light. Whoa mama. It’s also fairly strong tasting. I had been expecting something like Brie, but it’s much richer and tangy-er in flavor. Holds its own, for sure!
Can I eat the rind? You can, but it’s not necessary.
Serve it with: Veggies. Fruit. More veggies. Scant amounts of bread. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but this is not the kind of cheese I could handle eating with prosciutto or ham.

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Late Summer Tomato and Chevre Galette

This post is a lie. Yes this is more of a tart than a galette, but must importantly… it’s not the end of summer. I REFUSE TO SUCCUMB! Even though the leaves on the maples along the trail and starting to show red around their edges, the crickets are the only sound in the late summer morning air, and the tomatoes are fat and fire-truck red, I insist that this season can last forever.

But just in case, I’m gonna cook lots of things with tomatoes and corn.

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Squash Season! Zucchini Lasagna

This summer is brutal. Every afternoon this week I baked like a hamburger patty on the sidewalk. When the rain finally poured down Thursday night and dropped the mercury, I was able to turn on the oven to use some of the zucchini overflowing on our counter.

I am not a huge fan of Americano lasagna. Too much beef, too much cheese, too much pasta–I generally feel like I have a gigantic brick in my stomach if I eat any of it. This recipe takes out the pasta and a lot of the cheese, so it won’t taste anything like “lasagna,” but it was so tasty that I didn’t even have time to take a cross-section picture… because it was gone before I got home!

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Why Crate and Barrel sells pie weights

It’s Bastille Day! The 1789 day French civilians and others stormed the Bastille and it freaked everyone out, even though there were only seven prisoners and more rioters were killed than anyone else. Vive la revolution!

I celebrated this historic day by making a very non-French quiche and eating it with a bunch of French speakers outside of Fort McHenry. I didn’t have enough time to make the pastry dough from scratch (though apparently I am one of very few women who even attempt one), and I turned up my nose at the idea of adding beans to my pie crust while toasting it, because I’d never done it before.

On the right, first not-so-great attempt.

Pride always comes before a fall.

The pie crust turned into a mountain. I convinced myself I could still just pour the filling in, and created an oven disaster that validates Crate and Barrel’s $7 pie weight, though from now on I’ll just be sticking with reused dried peas or clean pebbles, à la français. Attempt two came out cute and clean, though to be perfectly honest both tasted delicious.

I was aiming for a decidedly non-French quiche; a ricotta, arugula and lemon recipe. A quiche typique of ham, cheese, eggs and layered pastry dough always leaves me feeling like a human log, and this was a fantasic and EASY variation.

Even if you do it properly and make the pie crust, it can’t possibly take you more than 20-30 minutes of active work to make, and then all that’s left is to receive compliments from the resident French quiche experts at the picnic.

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Fromage Friday: Gouda in Amsterdam

The number one most important thing in my life in France is markets. Even on vacation, I see those white tents and box trucks in the distance and it’s like a giant magnet descends from the sky and pulls me head-first toward the fruit, veg, bread and cheese.

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Easter in Epinal

The weather has turned cold, rainy and cloudy again, which is only fair for early April in the north. It made my arbitrary attendance of Easter Sunday service in the 12th-century stone basilica a little chilly, though.

One of the first pictures I ever saw of Epinal was of the basilica, when I was doing internet research from Pennsyvlania. The basilica between the years of 1940 and 1944, when Epinal was maimed in skirmishes with our now-friendly German neighbors, and blown up by Americans in 1944.

Sorry, Epinal.

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Fromage Friday: Langres

On the train home from Troyes last Saturday, I passed directly through Langres. Every time I pass through a city that has the same name as a cheese, I feel kind of… honored. I also feel compelled to go try that cheese immediately, so this week’s choice at the fromgerie was simple.

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Fromage Friday: Chaource

I can’t seem to keep hold of the few days, weeks, hours, that I have left before I move on from Epinal, either back home to the States for the summer or on to somewhere else.

On top of my obviously not knowing what I will be doing in a month and a half’s time (I haven’t even purchased a ticket home), it’s really hit home this week that many of the people I work with, live with, and spend my free time with will be inaccessible to me for much of the rest of my life. The problem with living in a lot of different places is that you make a lot of friends, and some of them will always be far away. The Atlantic Ocean is really not my friend.

With that on my shoulders, I didn’t make it to the market Wednesday morning to buy some cheese and produce. Instead, I bought some at the most expensive grocery store in all of Epinal. Shame! On the upside: I will be in Paris Friday and in Troyes on Saturday, which is the former capital of Champagne, and now holding down the Bourgogne fort. Perfect for this cheese post.

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Fromage Friday: Epoisses de Bourgogne

I had several major failures in England, including not procuring any black pudding. Black Pudding is one of 47 things left remaining on a 100 Things to Eat Before You Die list. Therefore, I had to go for Epoisses cheese this week, so I can check another item off.

I was a little intimidated. When you look up Epoisses de Bourgogne, you see that its a “strong-smelling, washed-rind cheese, with an aroma of marc.” Marc is not a smelly French guy, but rather the grape residue such as skins of the alcohol from grapes which certain cheeses are bathed in or treated with to improve or change their flavor. Also, when you buy Epoisses from the fromager, it looks like it’s trying to escape from its rind. In the case, it reminded me of Gak.

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Fromage Friday: Pavé Carvinois

My fromager has figured me out. After months of showing up at the cheese counter, standing behind the line for 5 minutes just staring at the case, he’s started giving me little tidbits of information when I choose a cheese completely at random.

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